Since the stay-at-home order in Maryland, my interest in airguns has increased since I have a basement (10 meter) and back yard (45 yard) range. I'm able to shoot every day now :)
I have acquired a few pre-compressed pneumatic (PCP) airguns (Benjamin Marauder, Umarex Gauntlet, Air Arms S510, and FX Crown) over the past couple of years and have been using a small Benjamin Traveller compressor. The issue with the Traveller is that it takes a while to fill up the larger airgun tanks and is quite noisy.
To solve this, I purchased a Great White 97 cu ft air tank which is great but requires something a bit bigger than the Benjamin Traveller to fill. In normal times, I would have been able to go to a local Paintball fill station to have it filled for $10-20 depending on the time required to fill.
I looked at several compressors and was going to get a Shoebox Compressor but found that they are not longer making them. I looked at the Alpha-Carette but was not quite ready to spend $1600+ on a compressor. I decided to get one of the low-cost Yong Heng compressors from Amazon. I'm not that happy that it's made in China but everything that isn't ridiculously exensive (including the Alpha-Carette) is not made in the USA.
I installed a filter / water separator on the output of the compressor and found that it was catching a lot of water and some of it must be getting through to the tank. I filled the Great White from the Yong Heng over a few 20 minute sessions (crazy loud) and decided to do some modifications.
After reading about the Shoebox compressor not having as many moisture issues because the compressor feeding it removes most of the moisture through condensation in the tank, I decided to use a compressor with a condensing air dryer and dessicant feeding the Yong Heng through a regulator at about 5 psi. That way nearly all of the moisture going into the Yong Heng will be gone and as an added benefit, it will be somewhat quieter since to do this I will need to remove the loud sintered bronze input filter
Here is the setup located in my basement scrub sink / bathroom. The dryers are mounted on the wall and the Yong Heng compressor is put on the sink drain shelf only during use.
I filled the tank the second time now (from 2500psi to 4500psi) and there is no water present in the HPA output filter. It seems that nearly all of the water is being captured in the shop air compressor before getting to the Yong Heng. It is somewhat quieter now also.
The condensing dryer is a variation on other similar designs mainly used for sandblasting or spray painting air compressors. I modified the design to meet the space that I had available.
The dessicant dryer is based off of a design from a YouTube video.
The bronze inlet filter was replaced with a right angle 1/4" NPT male-to-female right angle adapter with a 1/4" NPT to 3/8 hose barb. It required taking the lid off of the compressor and unbolting the stage 1 water collector to be able to remove the inlet filter and install the adapters.
I've been reloading 28gauge shells on my Ponsness Warren Platinum 2000 for a while now and have noticed that some of the hulls don't crimp well or stay crimped and some are being "scorched" when fired. The left one is a good once-fired/reloaded 28ga Winchester AA Hull and the right is the "scorched" once-fired/reloaded 28ga Winchester AA Hull.
It turns out that the first run of the Claybuster CB5034-28HS wads appear to be incorrectly sized. I recently bought a new batch of them which are marked with a "B" after the part number. The Rev B measures about .075" shorter and is .006" larger in diameter. This diameter change doesn't seem like a lot but it has corrected by "scorching" problem and the shorter length has fixed the crimp issue.
Top one is the Rev B, Bottom is the Rev A
Left one is the Rev B, Right is the Rev A
Left one is the Rev B, Right is the Rev A
I've gotten questions about how overall length affects pressure so I did a few Quickload simulations. Here is a .45 Colt load using 15.0gr of Alliant 2400 powder with OAL of (left to right images) 1.580", 1.530", and 1.480". This is a load that I use in my Henry Big Boy. Notice that the 1.580 is 11,610psi (ok), 1.530 is 11,610psi (getting close to the limit), and the 1.480 is 11,610psi (over the maximum).
Any time I get a new load, I check it with Quickload if I have any doubts about its performance or safety. Even this isn't 100% accurate so it's best to start low and work up to the load while checking cases for signs of over-pressure and verifying velocity is as expected.
WARNING: Don't deviate from published load data
I just cast a batch of 250 grain .45 cal bullets for loading .45 Colt and shot some video of the sizing / lubricating operation since I get questions about this from other people who reload and are thinking about getting into bullet casting.
The Lubrisizer processes just cast bullets (left photo) into sized (to fit the barrel diameter more closely) and lubricates (for better accuracy and to reduce barrel leading) cast bullets.
For more information, there are a lot of good articles available online at the Los Angeles Silhouette Club. If you are thinking about bullet casting or want more info about how to make your bullets better, this is a great place to look.
I have the Lyman 4500 Lube Sizer with the heater that I got from Midway USA The heater is important when using harder lubricant. I use Jake's Scarlet Cerasin Bullet Lubricant from Jakes Products for everything from 9mm to .308 and have never had an issue with it. I especially like this product because is isn't sticky or gummy when handling them after they are cool. It helps to keep from getting junk stuck to them when reloading.
Here is a video of it in action:
I got this Henry Big Boy Rifle in .45 Colt and love it. It's really smooth and accurate but I had some trouble with the standard rear sight on it. After a bit of googling, I found that Skinner makes a "BARREL MOUNTED DOVETAIL SIGHT" that "works well on any Henry rifle with a 3/8" Dovetail" and decided to give it a shot. I was pretty sure that it would fit ok since there is a photo of it on a Henry Big Boy on their website. The installation of a Skinner Peep Sight has made a world of difference.
The installation took about 10 minutes total. I just loosened the screw on the original sight and tapped it out with a brass punch and hammer (Wheeler Hammer and Punch Set) then I tapped in the new Skinner sight, made sure it was centered, and tightened the set screw. It mounted very securely and the brass looks good on it.
I just bought a Ruger American Rifle Compact in .308 Winchester at Freestate Gun Range last weekend with the thought of using it for deer hunting this fall in Frederick County, MD or in West Virginia (since rifles aren't allowed for deer hunting in Baltimore County). I really like the idea of a 100% Made in the USA product. Keeping with the Made in the USA, I have outfitted it with a Redfield Revolution 4-12x40mm Accu-Range rifle scope.
So far the rifle seems to have a nice fit and finish but the safety stage of the "Ruger Marksman Adustable Trigger" has a rough travel and seems to stick a bit. I'm going to give it a try in the factory configuration before taking the trigger out an polishing the parts.
This is my first Redfield scope and I'm pretty impressed with the quality and clarity of this scope.
I cast some 180 grain .308 bullets using a Lyman 311322 mold and have made some aluminum gas checks using the Freechex tool. I have loaded these into Lake City brass with a CCI Large Rifle primer and 21.0 grains of Alliant 2400 powder with 2.695" OAL. I estimate using Quickload that this will be about 1788 ft/second and have about 1300ft-lbs of energy which is a light load for a .308 Winchester but is easily sufficient for deer hunting (> 1200 ft-lbs required in MD for a rifle).
This is my first deer taken today (11/24/12) in Northern Baltimore County
The slug hit just behind the right front leg about 2" below the spine and exited low just in front of the left rear leg (you can see the exit wound in the photo). The shot was about 60yards down a 20 degree slope. The slug obviously had enough energy but more expansion (or compensating for the slope more to hit a couple of inches lower) would have dropped the deer much faster. He ran for about 200 yards up the other side of the valley and over a ridge.
Thanks to Dave, John, and Andy for helping me with the field dressing and getting it back to the car and special thanks to Dave for inviting me along on this trip!
I purchased this shotgun about 2 weeks before the 2012 deer hunting season in Maryland. The first thing that I did to it was cut 1 1/4 inches from the stock (the length of pull was a bit long for me to be comfortable) and added a Burris Fullfield II Scope 2-7x35mm. I chose this scope because of the excellent review that it got at chuckhawks and because it has a 1in range in eye relief (3.1-4.1 inches)
Overall, I have been very happy with the performance of this shotgun and scope. This is a purpose-built slug shotgun with a heavy rifled barrel. H&R even weighted the stock to reduce felt recoil (complicated the stock shortening since I had to cut the steel weight also).
Since I have been casting my own bullets for .308 and .454 Casull, I decided that I would cast slugs also. I saw that Lee sells a 1oz slug mold for about $28 that is designed for smooth and rifled bore shotguns and uses no special wads. In fact, it advertised an "exclusive drive key which positively rotates the slug in rifled shotgun barrels.
I cast about 50 of these using my Lee Production Pot loaded with 95% lead / 5% tin. The mold seemed to work ok but is finicky to close because the inner mold part didn't seem to want to line up properly unless the mold was tilted on its side.
I tried to use the loading data that came with the mold but the wads and powder used in their recipes aren't easy to come by here. My first attempt used the following load:
Lee Drive Key 1oz Slug, Fiocci 2-3/4" Hull (pre-primed), Claybuster CB1118-12 Wad, 28.0 grains of Hodgdon Universal Clays
At 25 yards, I was barely able to keep it on the paper. After reading a lot online, I thought that maybe the wads were being damaged from the heavy load and causing the accuracy problem. Also, I read that the Fiocci were straight-walled european hulls and didn't match the Claybuster wads so I started using the Winchester AA cases. My 2nd attempt used the following load:
Lee Drive Key 1oz Slug, Winchester AA Hull, Winchester 209 Primer, Claybuster CB1118-12 Wad, 25.0 grains of Hodgdon Universal Clays
Alhough the accuracy was somewhat better, it was still unacceptable = 6" at 25 yards. I then tried the same load with two different Winchester wads (WAA12SL [1 oz] and WAA12L [7/8 oz]) but had similar poor results
At this point, I am about 1 week out from the start of deer season and I don't have a slug load accurate enough to hunt with. I then decided to try a more scientific approach and load up a variety of options. I bought HS-6 powder, Longshot powder, and the Lyman 525 grain slug mold which looks like the world's largest airgun pellet.
Additionally, I read on the Internet that clean slug/wad separation is important so I included some lubrication on some of the slugs. I have used the lanolin / alcohol described in my case lube article below on some of the slugs. Casting with the Lyman slug mold went much better than with the Lee mold. After each pour, I was able to twist the center post (which released it from the slug), open the mold, and use the center post to gently set the slug on the cloth. I believe that this is much gentler on the hot soft slugs that whacking on it as I had to do to get the Lee mold to release.
Since I was using the Claybuster's 1 1/8 oz wad, the hulls didn't like to stay crimped very well. I would like to test the 1 1/4oz wads in the future but wasn't able to obtain any locally that didn't have ribs inside of the cup that would interfere with the slugs.
Here are the loads that I tried and the results (all are 5 shot groups -- really):
||Target Results (25 yards)
|Lee Drive Key 1oz 12 gauge Slug
||25.0 gr Universal Clays
||1770 ft lbs
|Lee Drive Key 1oz 12 gauge Slug||Winchester AA||Lanolin/Alcohol
||25.0 gr Universal Clays||Winchester WAA12SL||Win 209||1350 FPS||1770 ft lbs|
|Lee Drive Key 1oz 12 gauge Slug||Winchester AA||Lanolin/Alcohol||25.0 gr Universal Clays||Claybuster CB1118-12||Win 209||1350 FPS||1770 ft lbs|
|Lee Drive Key 1oz 12 gauge Slug||Winchester AA||None
||33.0 gr HS-6
||Winchester WAA12SL||Win 209||1400 FPS
||1903 ft lbs
|Lee Drive Key 1oz 12 gauge Slug||Winchester AA||Lanolin/Alcohol||35.0 gr HS-6
||Winchester WAA12SL||Win 209||1480 FPS
||2127 ft lbs
|Lyman Hollow Base Sabot 12 gauge 525 gr Slug
||Winchester AA||None||25.0 gr Universal Clays||Claybuster CB1118-12||Win 209||1300 FPS||1970 ft lbs|
|Lyman Hollow Base Sabot 12 gauge 525 gr Slug||Winchester AA||Lanolin/Alcohol||25.0 gr Universal Clays||Claybuster CB1118-12||Win 209||1300 FPS
||1970 ft lbs
|Lyman Hollow Base Sabot 12 gauge 525 gr Slug||Winchester AA||Lanolin/Alcohol||35.0 gr Longshot
||Claybuster CB1118-12||Win 209||1480 FPS
||2553 ft lbs
From this I have learned the following:
Depending on whether or not I can get to the range on Friday(the day before deer season starts), I plan to try the following load to get a bit more energy and a flatter trajectory (for longer shots):
|Lyman Hollow Base Sabot 12 gauge 525 gr Slug||Winchester AA||Lanolin/Alcohol||27.0 gr Universal Clay||Claybuster CB1118-12||Win 209||1364 FPS
||2168 ft lbs
Except for the wad, this is identical to the load given in the Lyman Shotshell Reloading Handbook. This should give an accurate load with more than enough energy for deer hunting. I would also like to try the 1-1/4 size wads to help the crimp on the hull stay closed better but I won't be able to source them before opening day.
UPDATE: The above load (525 Slug w/ 27.0 gr of Universal and CB1118-12 wads) did not perform well. There were fliers in nearly every group of 5 that I tried. I believe this to be a result of wad failure from the pressure of this hotter load. I have gone back to the 25.0 gr load and am still getting good accuracy as shown above.
Anyway, I have plenty of slugs cast and waiting to be loaded.
WARNING: These loads were tested by me in my gun and I believe them to be within safe limits but these are not officially tested and published loads. This data is for informational purposes only. I recommend that you don't try any of these loads without independent verification of this data. I assume no responsibility for any use of this
I have been reloading multiple calibers on my Dillon 650 press and it has been getting expensive using the Hornady One-Shot lube so I searched and found some home-made recipes for case lube. I settled on using the lanolin / alcohol mix but got some conflicting information on what mixture and alcohol strength was acceptable. I tried the following and have gotten exceptionally good results.
The difference between using 99% alcohol and 91% alcohol is that the mixture will separate over time with the 91% alcohol. This isn't a big deal since 5-10 seconds of shaking will remix it.
I put the brass into a clean plastic tub (the dishwashing tubs from the Dollar Store are cheap and great for this) and spray/mix until they are all coated. The alcohol coats the brass well and even seems to flow into the neck. WARNING: You should do this in a well-ventilated area away from open flame since the alcohol evaporates quickly (making flammable fumes).
This formula works extremely well for me especially in the larger rifle cases (.308 / .270 / etc.) I was using a large amount of pressure to resize with the Hornady One-Shot lube but this makes it much easier and smoother to resize the large cases. I have reloaded everything from .380 to .45-70 using this and have had great results with no issues.
I get asked often where I go to shoot in the Baltimore area. I have three places that I frequent:
I go to Freestate the most often. It is a 25 yard indoor range where I have a membership (includes unlimited range time). I am here most often because of the quality of the facility, the friendliness of the staff, and because it is close to my home. can grab my guns & ammo, go shooting, and be back home in a couple of hours. If you're just starting out in the shooting sports or looking to get your first gun then this is the place to go. They are very friendly and helpful. You can rent several models to test out before you buy. They allow all pistols, rifles up to .223 / 7.62x39(AK), and shotguns using slugs only. This range is open to the public.
For Skeet and Trap, I go to Loch Raven Skeet and Trap Center. They have skeet, trap, wobble trap, and 5-stand. If you've never shot clay targets, you should try it out. This range is open to the public.
AGC is the largest range in the area and offers the widest variety of shooting ranges. They have a 50 yard pistol range, 100 yard range, a 200 yard range, a trap field, indoor pellet gun range, shotgun pattering range, and an archery range. I like the AGC ranges but they are outdoors and shooting here can take the better part of a day since it is a drive from my house. This range requires membership in one of the 29 affiliate clubs. They do have some events that are open to the public such as the hunter sight-in and trap shoots.KeepGunsSafe_Logo.png
If you’re looking to hone your shooting skills but can’t find any decent shooting ranges in Pennsylvania, this article will show you the best ones in Pennsylvania.